Turkish Topçu

My two teams of Ottoman topçu artillerymen are more or less painted and are awaiting their mighty guns. Not only that, they are also awaiting their gabion protection screen. The diorama bases (one for each gun team) are already in progress and so I should start applying paint to them soon. 

In the meantime, here’s a pictorial review of my (nearly) painted Ottoman topçu.

This artilleryman is opening his powder horn, an item that still requires a little paint…
The ammunition being carried. I’ve supposed the cannonball is made of stone. I particularly like how this man’s coat is pinned back.
The spongeman. The man responsible for ramming home that stone shot. After firing, 
he will then dip his fleecy ramrod into a bucket of water and clean out the barrel of the cannon to make sure there were no sparks to set off the next charge.
I’m no artillery expert but I suppose this man might be a ventsman whose unenviable task was putting a thumb over the touchhole, to stop any premature explosion if any burning particles have been left by a previous shot.

Once the gun is ready, this firer will step in to ignite the charge with his portfire and the cannon will discharge. I am quietly pleased with the burning, glowing end of the cord, a quick job of experimental paint mixing which seemed to work pleasingly well.

This chap with the fez holds a handspike which he will use to help move and re-sight the cannon prior to the next shot.
This artilleryman holds a sledgehammer which is used for some reason which I read about but have since temporarily forgotten! It’s possible that it was used to drive the large cannonballs home or to assist in the repositioning of the cannon, but I’ll find out more…
Commander of gun crew “iki” (number 2). His holdfast on the turban needs attending to.
Commander of gun crew “bir” (one). His feather is still awaiting some paint.
Another portfire holder.

They’re impressive figures by Redbox and I’m quite pleased with the way these Ottoman artillerymen have come out. Well, my next task is diorama making which, as I’ve said, I’m already now under way on, so hopefully something to show at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Gabions Galore

In my last post I indicated the purchase of something to assist my latest project painting which is 17th century Ottoman Turkish artillery by RedBox. I’ve discovered some siege equipment, wicker gabions cast in resin, for sale on the internet.

A wicker gabion

If, like me, you’re not that familiar with early siege defences, then you may appreciate a little explanation courtesy of Wikipedia:


Early gabions were round cages with open tops and bottoms, made from wickerwork and filled with earth for use as military fortifications. These early military gabions were most often used to protect sappers and siege artillery gunners. The wickerwork cylinders were light and could be carried relatively conveniently in the ammunition train, particularly if they were made in several diameters to fit one inside another. At the site of use in the field, they could be stood on end, staked in position, and filled with soil to form an effective wall around the gun, or rapidly construct a bulletproof parapet along a sap.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabion
Pégard, engraver [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Cheap, quick and effective construction pieces even today, they are still a popular form of erosion control and landscaping. The side of motorways are commonly lined with metal cages filled with rocks; the modern alternative to wicker cylinders filled with earth.

An artillery emplacement of gabions by Anyscale Models

Anyscale Models produce four fabulous resin artillery screens of wicker gabions for just over £5, which allows me to protect eight of my gun teams for a very reasonable price. Manufacturer of my Ottoman Turks, RedBox, actually make their own 17th Century battlefield accessory set, but for the same price I would only get 3 gabions, not 48! Unfortunately for me, Anyscale Models’ main focus seems to be the 20th century and these are something of an anomaly.

A 1/72 scale Ottoman Topçu Ocağı mortar crew shelter behind the gabions.

My gabions are billed as being suitable for 20 -28mm scale and so should suit RedBox’s Turkish cannon and crews very well. They come in two different types, the slightly more expansive of the two are intended to be used for my larger calibre guns. These gabions will, of course, require some painting, so we will see how that goes!

Meanwhile, the painting of my Turkish topçu (artillerymen) progresses very well and I should have the two 8-strong gun crews from my first box of Turkish Artillery (17th Century) painted soon. With up to four more sets from RedBox’s range of Ottoman Artillery to choose from, if I’m happy with the end result, then I may well need more gabions…

Turkish Delight

So, what to paint next after all those snowy winter figures I’ve been working on for weeks? I’m feeling that it’s time for Suburban Militarism to attempt something else. Something warmer… Something different… Something completely different…

RedBox have been producing some very fine figures of late. The eras and conflicts that they concentrate on are mostly to do with the 16th/17th century. This is a little outside my areas of interest but nonetheless, I’ve been impressed by their recent figures. And so, for my next slow-burn project I will be having a go at building the Sultan’s army from their wonderful range of Ottoman Turks, starting with their artillery.

The Ottoman Empire was enormous at its height and was unsurprisingly therefore very powerful militarily. The Ottoman Empire was amongst the first European nation to have a professional and permanent artillery corps and consequently were the most effective in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. In an era dominated by siege warfare, much of the Ottomans strength lay in their numerous and formidable artillery corps.

My latest box model soldiers…

RedBox, in their typically generous manner, have produced an impressive number of different artillery kits for these Ottoman Turks, including the following named sets;

  • “16th Century Turkish Artillery”
  • “17th Century Turkish Artillery”
  • “16th Century Turkish Siege Artillery Gun”
  • “16th-17th Century Turkish Siege Artillery Mortar”
  • “Turkish Sailor’s Artillery 16th-17th Century”
Image of the two constructed 17th C set guns by Plastic Soldier Review

With industrial progress being slow in the 16th-17th century, all the kits could more or less be reasonably used together without creating an historical absurdity. Plastic Soldier Review states that “the guns in [the 17th Century] set are exactly the same as those in the set of 16th Century Artillery, and are still very appropriate to the 17th.”

1 of the 2 sprues of Ottoman Turkish gun crews in the box

I’ve decided to start with some figures from their “17th Century Turkish Artillery” set. Having a few boxes of Turks arrive through the post recently, I’ll probably dip in and out of these different kits.


Ottoman Topçu (artilleryman) from observations taken by the Swedish ambassador to the Ottomans.

The Topçu Ocağı (or Artillery Corps) being both a professional and a favoured division of the army did wear uniforms, though of exactly what sort is open to question. There appear to be many variations on colours, so it may be that colours simply varied with from unit to unit. For my first figures, I’ve gone with the colours shown consistently on all the RedBox box covers which closely match the illustration shown above by a contemporary Swedish ambassador. I may even maintain the same uniformity throughout all of the Sultan’s artillery, other arms being much more varied.

A re-enactor of the Siege of Vienna 1683.

With artillery sets, I guess the only way to present them is as a group together in a mini diorama, as with my recent Cracker Battery. To facilitate this, I’ve made another purchase which I hope will go perfectly with my Turkish artillery units. I’m rather excited about it but I’ll reveal what this is in a future post!